GOING GLOBAL WITH SA FETISH

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Three months ago, the last thing Cape Town-based entrepreneur Deon Behrens would have believed is that his newly formed company, Bondage Warehouse, would become one of the leading gay fetish clothing manufacturers in the world.

But that’s exactly what happened in August when two international gay retail giants, RoB of Amsterdam and Canada’s Priape, snapped up the company’s trademark Neoprene Line™ for both online their catalogues and retail outlets.

Today, Bondage Warehouse designs can be found in stores from as far as Vancouver to London, Toronto to Amsterdam. And their popularity only continues to grow with such icons as gay adult film star Alex Baresi both endorsing and distributing the line through his Berlin-based online store.

Producing some of the world’s finest leather and neoprene fetish wear was not something Behrens or his partner, Jacques Rautenbach, ever imagined doing.

“We initially had in mind starting an online store selling toys and accessories,” admits Behrens, “but then decided to move into the bondage scene and to import gear from various suppliers. But after receiving a few leather samples, we realised the quality was of such a low standard that we’d be closing our doors before we opened.”

Within weeks of founding the company in April 2008, the partners began manufacturing leather wear to the highest international standards, outsourcing to local suppliers while importing top-quality, full-grain hides and custom-plated hardware from overseas.

It was shortly thereafter that Rautenbach mentioned that a lesser-known material, neoprene, was gaining popularity amongst fetish/BDSM aficionados.

This new material – a synthetic rubber used commonly for wetsuits – was not only easy to source, but incredibly durable, form-fitting, and relatively easy to use. In short, the perfect material for the rigors of its audience. Within weeks, the partners presented their designs to a wetsuit manufacturer and an industry was born.

In a review of Bondage Warehouse’s Neoprene Line™, the Los Angeles-based Instigator Magazine de_clared: “Lighter ‘n thinner than most of the fetish neoprene gear we’ve cum across (or in), so overheating isn’t a problem. More durable than latex and it feels AWESOME on!”

The review continues: “When was the last time someone asked you, ‘Dude, where did you get that?!’ And you said, “Um… South Africa.”

In the course of a few months, these South African mavericks have definitely staked their claim on an international scale, with plans to expand further into Europe and North America, as well as extending their presence locally with a proposed retail outlet in Cape Town.

Bondage Warehouse plans to make its official debut at the upcoming Johannesburg Pride Festival from October 3-4. In addition to its official entry at the Pride March (featuring Mr. SAleathermen 2008, Q Botha, and a bevy of neoprene-clad men), the company will be operating a stall at the Zoo Lake fairgrounds. Bondage Warehouse is also one of the main sponsors of SAleathermen’s RENEGADE Pre-Pride Party at CCHQ on Friday, 3 October.

For more information visit www.bondagewarehouse.co.za. (Note: content may be of an adult nature)

James Myhre

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